I’m changing tense and perspective! This would usually be frowned upon in books that have actual pages and sit around on shelves looking all self-important, but this is happening online and everybody knows the internet isn’t real, so I think I’ll get away with it. Plus the sun went out this week, and if the sun can go around just being dark in the middle of the day and sparking discussions about whether or not dogs look at it, well, who is to tell writers what to do?
Gray stared down the little brat, cuffed and pale and stammering some kind of excuse which didn’t begin to wash. She’d seen soldiers like Cadet before. They thought they knew everything and because their actions were couched in good intentions, they figured breaking protocol was okay. She was about to teach this girl that it wasn’t.
“Please… ma’am,” Cadet stammered. “This is all a misunderstanding.”
“No, it’s not.”
Gray was not surprised to find Cadet locked up and wearing cuffs. The girl Cadet had taken it upon herself to stand up for was a natural born liar who would say whatever she needed to in order to get what she wanted, and do whatever took her interest at any given time. She did not experience remorse or guilt, and punishing her was pointless because it would have no effect.
Cadet was babbling the story now, thinking it made a difference. Of course Jodie had climbed out of the cabin, smoked weed and lied about it. She was impulsive, superficially charming and incredibly dangerous. Cadet was too damn innocent to see that, of course.
Gray had seen a lot in her lifetime. Some would have called her jaded. Maybe she was. Or maybe she was just smart enough to know a lost cause when she saw one. This girl with the country drawl and the big wide eyes didn’t seem to have the same instincts. It would have been charming, if she wasn’t in a position where bad decisions could get her killed.
“Please,” Cadet was saying. “If you could just tell Terra I’m here… she sent me out to get Jodie.”
“I told you that anything that happened with Jodie would be on your head,” Gray said. “You’re going to be punished, Cadet. I’ll send you back to Terra when I’m done with you.”
The look of despair on Cadet’s face was almost enough to make Gray hesitate, but she knew she wouldn’t be doing Cadet any favors by showing mercy now. The consequence had been made clear in the beginning, and now it had to happen or else her word would mean nothing.
She sat down on the cell bench and beckoned Cadet over to her. Cadet stared at her with that same stricken expression, then slowly shuffled closer. When she was in arm’s reach, Gray grabbed Cadet and pulled her over her thighs. The cuffs made it impossible for Cadet to control her fall, so Gray had to guide her down as gently as possible. Gentle wasn’t really Gray’s forte, but she didn’t want accidental injury either.
Best to get this over with quickly.
Gray swept down the sweat soaked uniform Cadet had been working out in all afternoon, ready to land a hard smack on Cadet’s deserving bare butt. The sight that met her gaze stilled her hand.
“Goddamn,” she whistled through her teeth. “I really got you yesterday, huh?”
Tracing across Cadet’s soft bottom were several dark marks corresponding to the landing of Gray’s extendable cane. They weren’t exactly horrific wounds, but they were definitely bruises, some of them pretty damn deep. Gray had figured Cadet’s pants would offer a lot more protection from the bite of her cane.
“Ye…yes ma’am,” Cadet stammered, her voice muffled due to coming from close to the cell floor.
“You’ve got a tender hide for a mouthy brat,” Gray added. “And you were wearing these when you decided to put your butt on the line for that rebel brat? Your ass must have been killing you all afternoon.”
“Yes ma’am,” Cadet sniffed. She sounded close to tears. Maybe because of frustration, or maybe just because she was anticipating more pain.
“Well, damn, Cadet. You’ve got to look out for your own hide first,” Gray lectured. “If I’d have whipped you again, you’d be in agony.”
Gray did not like to be merciful. It wasn’t her MO and it definitely wasn’t part of her reputation, but beating someone over bruises like these was just plain cruel, and in spite of everything said about her on the base, Gray wasn’t actually a sadist.
She pulled Cadet’s pants back up and tipped the girl back onto her feet. “You’re not getting off the hook,” she said, holding Cadet between her legs. “I’m going to give those a few days to heal up, and then you’re going back over my knee, understand?”
Cadet blushed adorably all the way from her face down her neck to god only knew where. “Yes ma’am,” she squeaked. “Thank you for not doing it now, ma’am.”
“I’m going to get your CO to come and get you.” Gray stood up, shaking her head at Cadet. “I’m going to make sure you’re on restricted privileges until I get my hands on you again. Don’t think for a second you’re out of trouble here.”
“No, ma’am, yes ma’am, I mean, thank you, ma’am,” Cadet stammered.
Gray turned and left the cell before any crack in her stern facade could reveal the fact she found Cadet’s quivering and apologizing and all the rest of it pretty damn cute.